Notebook 10/9: Rams Ready for League’s Top-Ranked Defense

Posted Oct 9, 2013

Three days removed from establishing a season-high scoring total in a 34-20 win over Jacksonville, the Rams’ offense is preparing for one of its most difficult challenges to date.

While the Houston Texans have lost three straight following a 2-0 start to the season, their defense is not to blame. Houston boasts the league’s top defensive unit, holding each of their five opponents to fewer than 300 total yards. They lead the league by allowing just 260 total yards, including 134 through the air, which would be the lowest opponent passing yard average since 1982 if maintained for the rest of the season.

“There’s no doubt that they’re a very talented defense,” QB Sam Bradford said. They’re very good as a whole. They don’t really have a weakness, so it’s going to be a big challenge for us. Handling J.J. Watt and the guys they have up front, you watch the tape and they do a good job getting after the quarterback. It’s going to be a group effort this week.”

Bradford passed for 222 yards last week, while the Rams piled up a season-best 143 yards on the ground. Bradford has been held below 200 yards passing just once this year. A similar performance this week would serve as a key milestone, as Houston has not allowed a 100-yard rusher, 100-yard receiver or 200-yard passer through five weeks.

The Houston defense has been buoyed by the return of safety Ed Reed, who has added a veteran presence to an already talented secondary. Third-year defensive end J.J. Watt serves as the centerpiece of the Houston defensive front, and Fisher has gone to great lengths to ensure the Rams are prepared for the All-Pro.

“We’ve got a red jersey on every snap in practice because you have to know where he lines up. He’s one of the better defensive players you’ll face. He’s very disruptive, quick, relentless. If he can’t get there, he bats the ball down, but most of the time he gets there with consistent pressure. We have our hands full with him.”

News and Notes:

-Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher is well-accustomed to facing the Texans from his days with the Tennessee Titans. Fisher is 7-3 in 10 previous games against Houston Head Coach Gary Kubiak.

-WR Austin Pettis’ four touchdown passes through five games have already tied his career-high, established last season.

-Rams RB Zac Stacy was chosen with the 160th overall pick in the 2013 draft, a pick that was acquired by the Rams via a trade with Houston.

Injury report:

T Rodger Saffold (knee), CB Cortland Finnegan (thigh) and RB Zac Stacy (chest) did not practice Wednesday. DE William Hayes (knee) and DT Matt Conrath (concussion) were limited.